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Aletha Olson

Feb. 23, 1909-July 24, 2008

Aletha Evans Olson, 99, longtime resident of Detroit Lakes, died July 24, 2008, at Emmanuel Care Center.

Aletha was born as the first child of Coral Aletha Oldham Evans and Harrison Clifton Evans on Feb. 23, 1909, in Monroe, Iowa. Aletha's father died in 1912, and later her mother married Floyd Fuller. The Fuller family moved to the nearby town of Newton, Iowa, where Aletha attended Newton High School, graduating in 1926 at age 17.

Aletha exhibited extraordinary leadership skills and intelligence beginning early in her life. She received her RN degree in nursing in 1930 at the Hinsdale School of Nursing in Hinsdale, Ill., presiding as the president of her class. It was there that she met Harold Anton Olson of Detroit Lakes, a fellow student.

Aletha and Harold were married on July 23, 1933, in Des Moines, Iowa. During the early years of their marriage they lived and worked in Chicago, saving their money in order to create a lake resort on the South shores of Lake Melissa, on a portion of land purchased by Harold's grandparents in 1897.

In 1950, Aletha and Harold bought the remaining acreage of the Olson family farm, which became their family home and the site of many wonderful memories. They operated Riverside Place Resort for 30 years and then sold it to their daughter, Ellen Jane Gilbert and her husband, Orlo Gilbert. Ellen and Orlo continued to run Riverside Place until 2002, thus maintaining a local family resort for 65 years.

In addition to her diligent work with Riverside Place, Aletha also had a professional nursing career which spanned several states and many aspects of health care. She worked in Iowa, Illinois, Florida, California, Ohio and Minnesota, serving as a hospital floor nurse, visiting home health care nurse, and a psychiatric nurse. She enjoyed her nursing career at St. Mary's Hospital in Detroit Lakes for several of her early nursing years.

Aletha was an active member of the Detroit Lakes Seventh Day Adventist Church since 1935, and was their oldest church member. She had a profoundly positive effect on her friends and family. She demonstrated a lively interest in each and every person who came in contact with her, and amazed and pleased her friends and family with her precise memory of names, events and world affairs. She was a kind and generous neighbor and was an inspiration to many of the young women and men in the Detroit Lakes Community. In her relaxing moments, Aletha enjoyed politics, handwork of all types, gardening and crossword puzzles.

Preceding Aletha in death were her husband, Harold Anton Olson and her brother, Dr. Harrison Silas Evans. Aletha is survived by her three daughters, Sue Olson Smith of Colorado Springs, Colo., Ellen Jane Olson Gilbert of Detroit Lakes, and Sally Aletha Olson Tuck of Atlanta, Ga. She was the grandmother of nine and the great grandmother of sixteen, all of whom were enthusiastic members of her "fan club."

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Elevator Fund at the Detroit Lakes Seventh Day Adventist Church in order to create better access for disabled members and visitors.

A memorial service is planned for 1 p.m. Wednesday, July 30, at Emmanuel Nursing Home, Detroit Lakes. There will be visitation for one hour prior to services at Emmanuel.

West-Kjos Funeral Home, Detroit Lakes, is handling arrangements.

Those wanting to share memories and condolences are invited to use the funeral home's online messages of sympathy section at